Water Quality and Testing in Your Area

What is in your Water?

Basic or alkaline water detoxifies and purges the body. However, you can’t produce alkaline water from the tap without a process called electrolysis. Therefore, all ionizers have an electrolysis chamber in which an electrochemical process takes place, this splits the water into acidic and alkaline water.

We drink the water which comes out of our taps every day, but how can we be sure that it’s of the quality we’d expect? The best way of finding out more is through a Google search in your area. For example, if you’re in Florida, you could tap in ‘water quality report Tampa’ to see the information that’s been placed online by your local authority.

The report for Tampa is generally good, but it does address a number of issues that have affected and continue to affect the safety of the mains supply. Hillsborough River is the main source of fresh aqua, but in times of need, the city can turn to their Aquifer Storage and Recovery system, a vast underground facility. They have also purchased desalinated aqua from the wholesaler, Tampa Bay Water, though less than 1% of the area’s supplies were brought in this way.

The report reveals how they deal with the raw water which enters their treatment plants before it makes its way to the 611 000 people who work and live in Tampa. The first stage begins with what they call a ‘rapid mix’, the rawest form of aqua. Organic matter is treated to make it form clumps and then the process is refined during the next stage, ‘flocculation’. Then, during ‘sedimentation’, it flows into a container and is left to sit, while any remaining particles are vacuumed away from the base.

Disinfection and stabilization then begin, with the oxidant ozone being added to kill bacteria, along with other microbial destroyers, like giardia. Lime is also stirred in to encourage a stable pH level. The liquid is then passed through a number of filters, before being treated with ammonia and chlorine to get it ready for storing until it is needed. Finally, even more, chemicals are added to Tampa’s drinking supply, these are sodium hydroxide to adjust the pH level, and fluoride, for dental health.

To learn about the state of Tampa’s raw and treated water, the Department conducts ongoing tests. For the year 2016, the supply met all federal drinking standards. Though unwanted compounds were detected, these were at acceptable levels. Officials also test for pH values, as a level below 7.1 can cause damage to pipes. Therefore, they strive to keep the supply at a more manageable pH of 7.1 – 8.5.

Contaminants in the Average Supply

Somewhat alarmingly, the report reveals a number of contaminants were found in samples collected during 2016. These include small amounts of arsenic, a toxin that is highly dangerous to humans, nitrates, which are chemical compounds used as fertilizers with possible carcinogenic effects, and barium, an earth metal which can prove fatal in large doses.

Another concern which the report identifies is backflow. This can occur when the system does not have enough pressure and it flows back into supply pipes, potentially bringing with it a range of different contaminants. To combat the problem, the report encourages residents to check the connections of their pipes and buy a backflow prevention device.

Learning More About Your Mains Supply

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, around 286 million people in the USA are connected to a mains supply which is fed from a community system. This means their water is monitored by the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency and should meet a range of standards. Although the CDC asserts that the USA has some of the safest drinking supplies in the world, they do acknowledge that contaminants can sometimes leach into the pipes which serve our homes.

White CDC lettering with white rays on a blue background.

Be it from farming practices, waste overflows or naturally occurring chemicals in soil, like uranium, pollution can cause health issues in humans. However, you and your family can avoid any potential contamination by having your water checked over by professionals. So the public can feel confident in getting the most accurate results, the State of Florida has pre-approved some private facilities through the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. You can view a full database of all these on the Florida Department of Health website. On this page, you can start a search for a lab to test your supply, based on where they are located and the type of organization they are (also approved by the DOH Environmental Laboratory Certification Program to take and analyze water samples).

Laboratories Certified Under NELAP by the Florida Department of Health

If you have MS Excel installed on your device, you can download this data in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, and the results will look something like this:

Excel excerpt with addresses of certified laboratories.

Do it Yourself Testing Kits

Water testing kits represent a giant leap forward for people who prefer to test their supply personally. These highly accurate tests are simple to use, inexpensive and deliver results quickly. You can use them at home or outside, and they are especially convenient in more remote areas. You won’t need to locate a lab, then wait weeks for a response, because with a DIY kit you get the answers you need in minutes. Methods vary, but for most it’s simply a case of dipping a responsive strip of card into the liquid, waiting for the indicators to appear, then use the chart provided to understand the results.

Many specialist retailers have these kits in stock and you can go for one that best suits what you have planned, whether you need to perform a one-off check, or you’ll be making regular checks. Similarly, if you have a concern about particular contaminants, be it pesticides, heavy metals or non-organic chemicals, there are kits that screen more comprehensively for those. A more general test will screen for around 80 different elements, including those which could be hazardous, like lead, chlorine, bacteria, and nitrates.

When to Use a Testing Kit
Some people just want to test the quality of their mains supply or check that a particular contaminant is not present. However, there are further circumstances when a DIY kit can be useful. They can be used to measure how well a new filter is working or to find out to what degree it has changed the quality of the supply. A kit can also be used annually to ensure the filter is still performing optimally and that your drinking water is as pure as you'd expect it to be.

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These information were not written by the American Food and Drug Administration, or any other official authority. This site and its products do not promise to diagnose and cure diseases, or protect you from them. Always consult your doctor when you are sick.